Selling Your Way Out of a Slump

The beginning of 2016 felt promising. We knocked the cover off the ball for the first few weeks. We had it all in place, then things went sideways in the middle of February, and we’re battling back as we speak.
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The beginning of 2016 felt promising. We knocked the cover off the ball for the first few weeks. We had it all in place, then things went sideways in the middle of February, and we’re battling back as we speak.

Toward the end of last year we decided we could sell $5 million in 2016. After a $4 million year in 2015 it seemed like a stretch goal, but reachable nonetheless. Our pipeline looked favorable going into the new year and sure enough we started out closing around $100K per week in January. We were pumped! Nothing could stop us! Around Valentines Day we started having trouble making our weekly goal. No big deal, part of the reason we manage our weekly sales around pipeline size is to prevent production from experiencing a slowdown. A down week or two is no big deal, but we’re now four weeks into a downward trend and it’s time to enact some countermeasures.

To begin with, we’ve gotten fat and happy over the years with the amount of referral business we generate. To put it simply, most of the time, the phone rings and we fulfill. Not a bad problem to have, right? For the last six years, that’s worked great and I’ve warned our sales guys against becoming too dependent on that steady stream of inbound interest. As a result, we don’t do much in the way of outbound business development. We’ve known about this weak side for some time and hired two new sales engineers last month to help us with that. The biggest issue right now is those new sales engineers are in the middle of their 90-day orientation period where they spend their time in the field and learn the Livewire Way. After seeing the results from the last four weeks, my kneejerk reaction was to pull one of them out early and put them in the sales trenches. My sales manager talked me out of it. He was right, and I appreciated his pushback.

Instead of shortsighted personnel changes, we’re now managing pipeline closer than ever. We make sure our current sales staff is making outbound calls to leads that we already directly market to via mail campaign, and re-emphasizing a sense of urgency on a daily basis. We broke down our efforts by revenue stream to ensure success.

Our sources of sales right now are:

●Referrals

●Web Search

●Builders

●Interior Decorators and Architects

Referrals: We’re emailing our current customers to let them know about our referral program. Simply put, if anyone of our current customers refers business to us, they will receive 5 percent off their next purchase with us (new business only). 

Web Search: We’re taking a big leap and hiring an outfit that does search engine marketing, optimization, and intelligent email drip campaigns all under one roof, as opposed to our current vendor who only focuses on search engine marketing (i.e. Google AdWords). 

Builders: We’re aggressively targeting additional builders for our builder program who were previously on the back burner. It’s go time!

Interior Decorators and Architects: We’re making sure our networking efforts are effective with the specifier crowd and communicating our referral program to these key partners as well.

I’m optimistic about our efforts, and we’ll see what the rest of the quarter and the beginning of Q2 bring. It sure feels better to be proactive with sales and marketing rather than wait around like a victim. Are your sales soft right now? What are you doing about it? Post in the comments. Let’s learn from one another. 

Stay frosty and see you in the field!

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